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Breakfast Read, Sunday Edition

Health-care Reform

Imagine Doctors, Patients Talking

Patients increasingly are taking a more active role, says Diane Rittenhouse, associate professor of family and community medicine at the University of California-San Francisco.

“They’ve gotten a lot of information out in the world and are trying to make sense of it, and the doctor says, ‘Here’s a choice you have, but let’s make that decision together based on what kind of insurance you have, what your preferences are, where you are in your life and what side effects’ ” can be expected, Dr. Rittenhouse says.

Talk Radio Campaign Frightening Seniors

The controversy stems from a proposal to pay physicians who counsel elderly or terminally ill patients about what medical interventions they would prefer near the end of life and how to prepare instructions such as living wills. Under the plan, Medicare would reimburse doctors for one session every five years to confer with a patient about his or her wishes and how to ensure those preferences are followed. The counseling sessions would be voluntary.

But on right-leaning radio programs, religious e-mail lists and Internet blogs, the proposal has been described as “guiding you in how to die,” “an ORDER from the Government to end your life,” promoting “death care” and, in the words of antiabortion leader Randall Terry, an attempt to “kill Granny.”

Obama Trims Sails On Health Reform

From the start of his presidency, Barack Obama made clear that his plan for enacting comprehensive health-care reform came down to three words: fast, broad and bipartisan.

Obama’s Pledge to Tax Only the Rich Can’t Pay for Everything, Analysts Say

Critics from conservative to liberal warn that Mr. Obama has tied his and Congress’s hands on a range of issues, including tax reform and the need to reduce deficits topping $1 trillion a year.

War On Terror: The Aftermath

Suicide’s Raising Toll: After Combat, Victims of an Inner War

The number of suicides reported by the Army has risen to the highest level since record-keeping began three decades ago. Last year, there were 192 among active-duty soldiers and soldiers on inactive reserve status, twice as many as in 2003, when the war began. (Five more suspected suicides are still being investigated.) This year’s figure is likely to be even higher: from January to mid-July, 129 suicides were confirmed or suspected, more than the number of American soldiers who died in combat during the same period.

Those statistics, of course, do not offer a full picture. Suicide counts tend to be undercounts, and the trend is less marked in other branches of the military. Nor are there reliable figures for veterans who have left the service; the Department of Veterans Affairs can only systematically track suicides among its hospitalized patients, and it does not issue regular suicide reports.

This is really great. Nice going “Terror-warriors”.
Iran, US do a ‘war on terror’ somersault

The transfer of security in Iraq from the United States military to local forces has made for some ironic entanglements, many of which benefit Iran. This week’s Iraqi raid on Camp Ashraf, a base for the militant Iranian dissident outfit Mujahideen-e-Khalq – until recently “guarded” by the US – has turned friends into enemies

Economy Watch

U.S. Recession Worst Since Great Depression, Revised Data Show

The first 12 months of the U.S. recession saw the economy shrink more than twice as much as previously estimated, reflecting even bigger declines in consumer spending and housing, revised figures showed.

U.S. recession pains minorities, but hope persists

Blacks and Hispanics have suffered disproportionately in the recession because they often lack seniority, and they are heavily represented in the hard-hit retail, manufacturing and auto industries, Morial said in an interview.

The unemployment rate for U.S. blacks has hovered between 1-1/2 times and double that of whites for several years.
Perhaps surprisingly, a survey by banking giant Citigroup Inc found minorities had a more positive view of the economy than the majority of Americans. Of 100 blacks and Hispanics surveyed earning between $25,000 and $50,000 a year, about half believed the economy will improve over the next six months, compared to 38 percent of a larger national sample of workers.

They were not asked about their own prospects.

In the Recession, Shoppers Are Becoming Hagglers

Think you should haggle only when buying a car or shopping in the streets of Morocco? In this recession, if you’re not bargaining for everything everywhere, you’re needlessly draining your wallet.

Everything you always wanted to know about “Cash for Clunkers”.
‘Cash for clunkers’: questions and answers

Around The Nation

Young Women Closing in on Gender Wage Parity

Working women in their early twenties are close to catching up to their male counterparts in median earnings, according to Labor Department data. Women in most age groups have made gains since 1979, but full-time working women ages 65 and older have gained no ground in closing the wage gap.

The Grim Sleeper

One man is believed to have killed seven women in the city in the 80s, and then, uncaught, went silent for 13 years. A few years ago, he began to strike again.

America’s Obsession With Crime

In 2,000 years of Western civilization we have been guilty of heresy, perversion, theft, and murder; of fighting and refusing to fight; of loving, lusting after, and sometimes just looking. We have been guilty of speaking out and keeping silent, of walking, marching, and running away. We have been found culpable for following orders and for refusing to follow them, for adultery, child endangerment, sexual harassment, and elder abuse. We have also been guilty of our religion, national origin, skin color, sexual preference, gender, and, now and then, of the blood in our veins.

NRA’s stance fails to sway some on Sotomayor vote

The National Rifle Association’s threat to punish senators who vote for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor has been met with a shrug by Democrats from conservative-leaning states and some Republicans who are breaking with their party to support her.


States’ woes could drag Democrats down

[W]hile President Barack Obama inherited a financial crisis from his predecessor, voters tend to blame the party in power sooner or later. For proof, look no further than the Ohio, a crucial swing state that’s been among the hardest hit by the recession. The most recent Quinnipiac Poll there put Obama’s approval rating at 49 percent —a 13-point drop from May and the lowest number registered anywhere to date.

But it’s not just the Buckeye State.

A Difficult Summer for The White House

IF THE opinion polls are to be believed, Barack Obama is now, six months into his presidency, no more popular than George Bush or Richard Nixon were at the same stage in theirs. His ratings are sagging particularly badly with electorally vital independent voters: two-thirds of them think he wants to spend too much of their money. Two of the most specific pledges he made to the electorate—to reform health care and to produce a cap-and-trade system to curb greenhouse-gas emissions—are in trouble. And an impression is being formed in Washington of a presidency that is far too ready to hand over the direction of domestic policy to Congress; that is drifting either deliberately or lethargically leftwards; and that is more comfortable with lofty visions than details. On the campaign trail Mr Obama showed an impressive ability to change gears. He needs to do so again this summer.

Op-ed columns

Can this alliance be saved?
Free Marriage Counseling (By Thomas Friedman)

Israel and America are having one of those periodic marital spats they have had over the years, replete with “I-am-not-taking-any-more-of-your-guff” outbursts by Obama officials at American Jewish leaders, and, yes — it wouldn’t be a real Israel-U.S. dust-up without it — Israeli accusations that Jewish Obama aides are “self-hating Jews,” working out their identity crises by working over Israel. Having been to this play before, and knowing both families, I’d like to offer some free marriage counseling.

Curbing Runaway Health Inflation (NY Times Editorial)

This year’s effort to reform health care revolves around two powerful, conflicting imperatives. One is to cover tens of millions of uninsured Americans. The other is to absorb the enormous cost of that plan — which could reach $1 trillion over 10 years — without increasing the budget deficit in the next decade or setting the nation on a course that will drive up deficits later.

Maybe mendacity is a winning strategy after all.
Will Bill and Betsy kill again?

Kristol and McCaughey helped derail Clinton’s healthcare reforms with misinformation — and now they’re at it again

Don’t Trust Obama On Gay Marriage (By James Kirchick)

When it comes to same-sex marriage, the [gay rights] movement can’t count on support from the current president either. When White House press secretary Robert Gibbs was asked about Clinton’s comments, he told reporters that his boss “does not support” same-sex marriage. “He supports civil unions,” Gibbs assured. And despite President Obama’s statement that he opposes the ban on gays serving openly in the military, Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings (Fla.) last week said that the White House pressured him to withdraw an amendment that would have prohibited funds from being spent on investigating “don’t ask, don’t tell” violations.

Around The World

‘Killer will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law’

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday condemned Saturday night’s deadly shooting attack at a gay community center in Tel Aviv and promised to bring the perpetrator to justice.

(H/t Woman Voter)

Hidden misery of Mao’s slave teenage brides

After 60 years, girls forced to wed soldiers are telling of their plight

Former Iranian president calls trial a sham

An influential pro-reform ex-president criticized the country’s first trial of activists and protesters following the disputed presidential election as a sham that would further erode confidence in the ruling Islamic establishment.

Clinton must strike right tone in Africa

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton faces a delicate job striking the right tone on her seven-nation trip to Africa next week if she wants to compete against China’s growing influence.

The 11-day trip — Clinton’s longest as secretary of state — comes three weeks after President Barack Obama visited Ghana and told African leaders to behave more responsibly, warning that to receive Western aid, there must be good governance.

Our view on medical reform: Dishonest debate mars bid to overhaul health care (USA Today Editorial)

Don’t let scare tactics, something-for-nothing politics wreck needed fix.

Another view: First, cover the uninsured (By Jon Kingsdale)

In Massachusetts, we expanded access, then tackled costs.

From The History Files

Grand Canal Predated Venice: Ancient Roman City Lost, Now Found

The lost Roman city of Altinum has been found in Italy. Sophisticated aerial images released this week reveal fascinating new details about Venice’s predecessor, which was abandoned by its citizens and then sank into the lagoon.

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22 Responses

  1. Three Dead After Shooting at Tel Aviv LGBT Youth Center. The shooter walked into the center during a meeting for LGBT teens. Most of the victims were very young, and many were not yet out to their families.

  2. 2 Shot Dead at Gay Center in Tel Aviv
    The New York Times
    TEL AVIV (Agence France-Presse) — A masked man opened fire on a crowd at a gay community center in Tel Aviv late Saturday, killing three people and wounding at least 10 others, the Israeli emergency services said.

  3. “Obama trims sails on health reform” — does this mean mandated coverage is out?
    Many of the 20-30 year olds who elected Obama believe they don’t need insurance – but without them opting in, the premiums will be higher for everyone else.

    And if they do get sick and incur exhorbitant hospital and doctor bills – nothing changes – taxpayers pay the bills.
    At least that’s what I understand.

    • Josey;

      I think the mandated coverage is out but I’m not sure. I haven’t had the time to read people who follow this stuff closely. I’ll probably have to check Ezra’s blog later today or tomorrow.

      I don’t know exactly what the latest “compromise” looks like but I think mandated coverage has been out for sometime.

      Anyone who knows more on the subject here will probably chime in later.

  4. George Stephanopoulos tweeted that Tim Geithner isn’t ruling out a middle-class tax increase. Since when is it up to him? Is this really a dictatorship now? What role does Obama play?

  5. I am so mad I could spit right now. I walked by a TV someone is watching at home, and WHO is Stephanopolous interviewing with great respect and deference about the economy?


    This man is one of the main reasons we walked right into the economic crevasse, and now they want HIS “very optimistic” opinion on where we are right now and what programs are needed to continue with this great new recovery we are witnessing? I want to puke. They live in their own world, where someone who was instrumental in creating this crash, and NEVER saw it coming, is now considered an authority. No one is accountable. George just teed up questions to make them all look good.

    • I heard something about Michelle Malkin being on. Could that really be true?

      • she’s out pushing her new book, I imagine she’s trying to get booked where she can, I saw Beck peddling it like dope last night on a channel surf through tv hell

      • Yes, she was on. It was actually quite a center/right panel, with George jumping in at every opportunity to soft-peddle everything for the O administration.

  6. Thanks for the Walter Mosley article, MABLue. I’m both a true crime and detective story fan.

  7. Yep, she’s supposed to be part of the roundtable according to the website.

    • What a joke! We have no media.

      • What the hell is going on in Journalism programs these years. Oh, lord, Larry Summers is on meet the Press. Can one set hold that much ego? Who’s head is bigger his or ?

        • Gregory just asked Summers if he wanted to be Fed chair …the answer was a gee, I’m so busy now, this is what I’m focused on … damn cryptic, political answers! I’d sell dollars short on that!

  8. One can blame whoever and whatever on the mess of health care reform but the truth is the buck needs to stop at the oval office. Nothing puts major legislation at risk more than confusion and all kinds of disinformation coming out. Only an inexperienced, naive idiot would believe that confusion and disinformation is not going to be what the right is up to. Ultimately, that confusion has to go directly to the top guy for not orchestrating this more intelligently. There is plenty of history to guide the present and future. We have FDR and Johnson—they actually got bi-partisan buy in. They are two different, but successful, congressional legislative masters. Bill Kristol and repubs get by with what they are allowed to get by with. The people who lap up conservative talk radio are the people who believe the Kristol disinformation without being fed it..

  9. Re: the article on Obama and support for gay issues, this guy was really prescient (as were many of us):

    I came across this blog last night, looking for coverage anywhere of the Pelosi promise to hold a vote for Medicare for All on the floor of the House–nice shrill poster Bryan wrote:

    First off, I would like to remind people that on January 30th, 2008, before he was the nominee, I stated, flat out, that Barack Obama was a moderate to conservative Republican based on his limited voting record as a US Senator, and his personal choice of Joe LIEberman as his mentor in the Senate. The nominal D after his name was irrelevant.

    The votes he later made in the Senate on FISA and other issues simply confirmed it, but few “liberals” wanted to hear criticisms of Obama. I’m a little tired of listening to people trying to explain away the actions of the Obama administration as some “ineffable plan”, it isn’t even involved enough to be a cunning plan.

    “We shall grapple with the ineffable, and see if we may not eff it after all.” — Douglas Adams in Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

    Ockham’s razor is useful beyond the scientific world. Everything he has done is readily explained by the fact that his administration is pretty much what would have happened if Mitt Romney had won. In case you missed it, Obama is pushing Romney’s health insurance proposal. Stop looking for a liberal or progressive President, you didn’t vote for one. His votes in the Senate were more conservative than Hillary Clinton’s. If you wanted a liberal, Kucinich was running.

    Now for the blue pill-red pill example Obama used at his 7/22 prime time presser:

    At the July 22nd health insurance press conference, Obama said:

    “If there’s a blue pill and a red pill, and the blue pill is half the price of the red pill and works just as well, why not pay half price for the thing that’s going to make you well?”

    This is a general reference built on the reality that some of the generic drugs are nearly identical to their name brand counterparts and work just as well. [Note: This is not always true, and substitutions of generics need to be OK’d by the doctor who prescribed the meds, especially in the case of blood pressure and cholesterol drugs, as the side effects may well be different. Been there and done that with my Mother’s meds. I would add that in her case the generics work better, but the reverse is true for other people.]

    According to a number of highly political commentators, this was a failed moment because people wouldn’t understand that this was an allusion to the movie Matrix in which a character says:

    “You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”

    Excuse me, this is politics, right? In politics, blue = Dem, red = Repub, sound familiar? Why would anyone bring up something from a decade old mediocre science fiction movie to explain a concept to a general audience? This is like my references to “brown acid”, only Boomers know what I’m talking about. In addition, in the movie, the red pill is the more correct choice, as it leads to reality. Maybe a few of the talking heads should see if their health care plans include it?

    My emphasis throughout.

    The Jan. 2008 post is pretty sharp as well.

  10. Hidden misery of Mao’s slave teenage brides

    Thanks for posting that article. It’s always very sad to hear of such stories, but then again the victims stories need to be heard.

  11. A big kudo to the fantastic graphics, art work selections.

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